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Indian Bania On British Raj Economics

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Indian minds decipher Western economic mechanisms.

Vithaldas Thackerdas from the Bhatti community  |  An illustration of the 1358 Bhatti Parishad meeting  |  Image source and courtesy - globalbhatia.org

Vithaldas Thackerdas from the Bhatti community | An illustration of the 1358 Bhatti Parishad meeting | Image source and courtesy - globalbhatia.org

Nearly a 100 years ago, in 1915, even before Keynes’s star had risen, an Indian economist, SV Doraiswami, published his book, Indian Finance, Currency And Banking. Doraiswami’s ideas were opposed to those of Keynes and his views are vindicated by events today.

Doraiswami had already published his views in several outlets like London’s Statist, and his book was reviewed around the world. In the decades that followed, though Doraiswami’s work was known in academic circles, the Keynesian economists who gained control of academia were dismissive of his ideas and relegated him to the footnotes as they were conditioned to believe that governments could solve all problems.

Doraiswami faulted the British economic policies in India and demanded that the central bank be an ‘instrument for allowing and encouraging the free and unfettered inflow of gold into India.’ He wrote that a ‘gold standard without a gold currency is an absurdity’ and wrote in support of a resolution by Vitthaldas Thackersey in the Imperial Legislative Council calling for the opening of mints for the free coinage of gold. (via Special: Economic meltdown vindicates forgotten Indian economist – Analysis – DNA).

In Days Gone By

Some of colonial India’s leaders and activists knew of and believed in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. For instance, the link between war and gold – forgotten today, but well known then.

One such person was Vithaldas Thackersey. His proposal for setting up a mint at Mumbai received wide attention – and support. The best of British brains were needed to derail and delay the project till such time that all its ‘problems’ for the British Raj were removed.

Keynes himself reviewed this proposal and included this in his tract on Indian currency.

Men and Money

From pre-Gandhiji era, Vithaldas Thackersey (a Gujarathi Bhattia) worked to deliver credit banking to Indians and  in urban and rural areas – at a time when the British Raj was working to extract and fencing access to capital for Indians.

Today India’s ‘intellectuals’ have forgotten both.

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra and gold.

Gold grand prix – The Chinese challenge

Total Gold demand - Top world markets (Image courtesy 0 ft.com). Click for a larger copy.

Total Gold demand - Top world markets (Image courtesy - ft.com). Click for a larger copy.

Golden ambitions

Western media has breathlessly announced that India’s leadership of many centuries as the largest buyer of gold has been broken by the Chinese. What does this mean for India and China? Not to forget the rest of the world. In the last few months,

India and China combined to contribute 63 percent of the total gold jewelry demand in the world in the first quarter.

Investment demand has grown (in China) by an average 14 percent a year since deregulation of the market in 2001, “a trend that has continued with the strong growth momentum witnessed in the first quarter,” it said. China’s investment demand jumped 123 percent to 90.9 tons in the first three months, compared with an 8 percent rise to 85.6 tons for India.

The country’s total (investment + jewelry)  gold demand in the first quarter jumped 47 percent from a year ago to 233.8 tons, the council said. That still lags behind Indian consumption of 291.8 tons, according to the council. (emphasised text in brackets supplied.)

Gold-to-silver ratios in the past few decades. Image courtesy - wsj.com. Click for larger image.

Gold-to-silver ratios in the past few decades. Image courtesy - wsj.com. Click for larger image.

Law abiding citizens

International regulatory damping of gold demand – especially in USA, India and China eased from 1975 onwards – from December 31st, 1974, with Executive Order 11825 by Gerald Ford.

Unlike India, which was well serviced and supplied with gold by the Indian underworld, China and the USA were deprived of gold supplies during this regulatory blackout of nearly 50 years. Current growth in demand for gold in China is building on a

low base which means that the investment demand and demand for an inflation hedge from 1.3 billion increasingly wealthy Chinese people is more than sustainable.

The not realized important fact that the people of China were banned from owning gold bullion from 1950 to 2003, means that the per capita consumption of over 1.3 billion people is rising from a tiny base. Gold ownership by the Chinese public remains minuscule. Especially when compared to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and India.

Should the Chinese economy crash as some predict, demand could fall. However, sharp declines in Chinese equity and property markets and a depreciation of the yuan would likely lead to significant safe haven demand for gold. Chinese demand alone likely puts a floor under the gold market at $1,450/oz.

It is worth noting that the People’s Bank of China’s gold reserves are very small when compared to those of the U.S. and indebted European nations. China appears to be quietly accumulating gold bullion reserves. As was the case previously, they will not announce their gold purchases in order to ensure they accumulate sizeable reserves at more competitive prices.

China – Biggest gold producer and consumer

China is already the world’s largest producer of gold from 2007, for four years now. China has captured the top position from

South Africa, which was producing as much as 1,000 tons of gold in 1970, (but) has seen its mining production decline for five straight years.

Accelerating a drop in output last year, the country’s mining authorities started a crackdown on unsafe mines after 3,200 workers were trapped at Harmony Gold Mining Ltd.’s Eldestrand mine in October.

Following an order by President Thabo Mbeki, the mining commission in the last three months started to requiring gold mines that suffer a fatal accident to suspend operations while a safety audit takes place. (emphasised text in brackets supplied.)

In 2010 Chinese gold production was

340.88 tonnes of gold in 2010, retaining the position of the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, the China Gold Association said. The number of domestic gold producers shrank to around 700 at the end of 2010, from 1,200 in 2002, through mergers and acquisitions

Further recently, the Chinese Government, through public sector companies, bought South African gold mines from the Australian owner.

Citic Group, China’s biggest state- owned investment company, and partners agreed to buy Gold One International Ltd. (GDO) for about A$444 million ($469 million), gaining gold assets in South Africa.  China Development Bank Corp. and Long March Capital Group are the other members of the bidding group, which is seeking as much as a 75 percent stake and plans to keep the company trading in Australia and South Africa, with a potential listing in Hong Kong. Citic is bidding through its Baiyin Non-Ferrous Group Co. unit and China Development Bank through its China-Africa Development Fund.

Gold One operates the Modder East mine in South Africa and also has projects in Mozambique and Namibia.

A frothing-at-the-mouth FT.com found many reasons to critique the deal.

China and silver

The other big story is silver. Why this sudden spurt in prices? How sustainable is price increase in silver?

Silver is down nearly 30% this month in volatile trading. Such a move in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would equate to an eye-popping drop of more than 3,700 points. Tony Crescenzi of Pacific Investment Management Co. called silver’s parabolic rise and subsequent skid a “tulip mania-style move.”

Silver backers counter that even with its recent drop, the lesser precious metal has retained a nearly 80% gain over the past year.

While gold supply is well understood, silver bulls and bears argue about just how much silver is out there. Some analysts make the case that silver in batteries and photographic film is “recycled” back into the market, reducing scarcity. Silver bulls, of course, think that’s a bunch of poppycock.

More important, the gold-silver price ratio has gotten out of whack. During most of the past 10 years, the ratio hovered around 60, meaning gold was 60 times more expensive than silver. Silver’s incredible surge over the past year has pushed the ratio down to 43, a level not seen since silver’s last crazed phase in the early 1980s. At its peak, back on April 29, the ratio narrowed to 31, a level not seen in three decades.

Silver bulls will argue that the gold-silver price ratio should reflect the 15.5 level authorized by France in 1803, or the 15 level outlined in the U.S. Coinage Act of 1792. It’s more likely that the ratio will revert to modern-era norms rather than race back to the Napoleonic era. And that means that gold, more than silver, looks like the solid store of value today.

Behind this huge spike in silver prices

The Chinese.

As 2ndlook has pointed out earlier, Chinese love silver – and Indians love gold. Most of Chinese consumption of gold is by a few well-heeled elites with guanxi.

But only look at the Chinese trading frenzy in silver.

Chinese speculators have emerged as a big driver of silver’s spectacular rally and subsequent crash with trading in the metal in Shanghai soaring nearly 30-fold since the start of the year.

The commodity, nicknamed “the devil’s metal” for its wild price swings, surged 175 per cent from August to a peak of almost $50 a troy ounce two weeks ago. Since then, it has plummeted 35 per cent, hitting a low of $32.33 on Thursday.

At the same time, silver turnover on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, China’s main precious metals trading hub spiked, rising 2,837 per cent from the start of this year to a peak of 70m ounces on April 26, according to exchange data.

The number of contracts outstanding, an indicator of investor exposure, doubled over the same period.

Silver trading in Shanghai remains below the levels in London and New York, the two main global hubs, but its rapid growth means its has become increasingly significant in driving prices.  “I’m pretty certain it’s the Chinese retail [investment] that is driving this move,” one senior precious metals banker said. “There’s an enormous amount of speculation going on out there, they’ve got the bit between their teeth.”

The Chinese gorilla

Looking at the reports of the market and commodities, it is plain that the Chinese Government is an interested player in gold acquisition – something that 2ndlook projected nearly 4 years ago. And the Chinese consumer is behind the rise in silver prices.

Since China is anyway the world’s largest producer of gold, disruption in gold supplies has not highly marked. If other Governments follow the Chinese example, gold prices could explode. If Chinese buying gets very aggressive, again, prices could spike.

The only cloud on the horizon could be some kind of consensus to bring some undeclared quantities of gold into the market – like the Central Banks Gold Agreement (CBGA). Is that likely? The only such seller could be EU members? With the Euro-zone and the Euro-currency itself in such trouble,  would ECB members dare to sell gold?

Especially, if the Chinese Government is ready to buy?

Top national central bank gold holdings. (Image courtesy - FT.com.). Click for larger copy.

Top national central bank gold holdings. (Image courtesy - FT.com.). Click for larger copy.

Of Mice and Men – 2015 Gold Outlook

USA, EU traderelationships with oil producers. The European hands-on, micro-management issue of trade balance seems to be delivering? Some may question, what it is delivering, though.

USA, EU trade relationships with oil producers. The European hands-on, micro-management issue of trade balance seems to be delivering? Some may question, what it is delivering, though.

Of mice and men

While the US dollar is weakening, by design, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are being bankrupted by a deliberately overvalued Euro.

In such a scenario, China believes that it has a winning hand. Even though, the Chinese exports juggernaut has been slowed by a yuan, trading at 17 year-highs. March 2011 reports indicate

an unexpected $7.3 billion trade deficit, the biggest in seven years. The nation’s (China’s) exports rose at the slowest pace since November 2009.

The US is betting that a weak dollar will reignite economic growth – much like what happened after the Japanese Yen strengthened due to Plaza Accord (1985).

For Europe, the grand prix is to replace the dollar as the currency of international trade – especially oil trade. Euro as a international trade-currency-of-choice, will give the Euro region access to more than 1 trillion euros in zero-cost floating balances.

China is expecting the yuan to play a similar role. Such are plans made by mice and men.

Monsieur Murphy says

What can go wrong with these plans? Plenty.

The eternal enemy of currency manipulation – gold. As a million bureaucrats work on the mechanics of their plans,

Increasingly, everyone is a victim - except the powerful 0.5% elite that rules the world. Break their power. Buy gold. (Cartoonist - Ted Rall; courtesy - http://charlesgoyette.com). Click for larger image.

Increasingly, everyone is a victim - except the powerful 0.5% elite that rules the world. Break their power. Buy gold. (Cartoonist - Ted Rall; courtesy - http://charlesgoyette.com). Click for larger image.

Sales of gold coins are on track for the best month in a year amid the worst commodities rout since 2008, a sign that bullion’s longest bull market in nine decades has further to run, if history is a guide.

The U.S. Mint sold 85,000 ounces of American Eagle coins since May 1 as the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 raw materials fell 9.9 percent. The last time sales reached that level, bullion rose 21 percent in the next year. Gold will advance 17 percent to a record $1,750 an ounce by Dec. 31 and keep gaining in 2012, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 31 analysts, traders and investors shows.

UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, had its second-best day this year for physical sales on May 9, according to a report the following day. The bank’s sales to India, the world’s top bullion consumer, are more than 10 percent higher than in 2010. (via Gold Coins Show Bull Market Unbowed in Commodities Decline – Bloomberg).

You take free advice …?

While George Soros talks of gold being the ultimate bubble, his companies are quietly buying gold.

Back in late January, as the world’s important people rubbed elbows in Davos, billionaire investor George Soros had some rather definitive thoughts to offer on gold, which he called “the ultimate asset bubble,” according to reports.

However, he neglected to mention that his hedge fund had been buying.

Another report points out that the liquidation (by people like Soros) of investments in public investment vehicles may be replaced by private investments.

In this game of musical chairs, when the music stops, everyone who does not own gold is out. (Cartoon by David Horsey; Courtesy - http://politicalhumor.about.com). Click for larger image.

In this game of musical chairs, when the music stops, everyone who does not own gold is out. (Cartoon by David Horsey; Courtesy - http://politicalhumor.about.com). Click for larger image.

The new filings from funds “may show that big names exited ETPs and this news may cause prices to slip in the very short term,” said Bayram Dincer, an analyst at LGT Capital Management in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. Some funds switched to holding gold directly so they wouldn’t have to announce it publicly, he said.

Is gold a bubble?

A rather disbelieving journalist writes of the situation in the West

Gold is in a bubble. Anyone will tell you that. They’ve been saying it since gold was about, oh, $500 an ounce. But it’s a funny kind of a bubble. It’s the only one I’ve encountered where so few people seem to own the asset in question.

During the dot-com bubble, you met lots of people with tech stocks. Taxi drivers told you what dot-coms they owned. During the housing bubble you met normal, ordinary people who were trading up to expensive homes using adjustable-rate mortgages, buying new condos off plan to flip, and cashing out their fictional “equity” through a refinance mortgage.

But who actually owns gold? I keep hearing about the gold bubble, but every time I ask people if they own any themselves, they say, “no, no, of course not, it’s a bubble.”

Some bubble.

Central banks around the world are printing more dollars, euros, pounds and yen. Gold may simply be a less awful currency than all the others. Banks can’t print any more of it, so its price should probably rise while other currencies fall.

For this year, the question in India seems to be, “Will gold cross Rs.25000, by 2011 Diwali?”

The shadow of oil

Middle East Politics (from Coming apart, coming together By Edward R. Kantowicz; Page 165; courtesy - books.google.com). Click to go to source.

Middle East Politics (from Coming apart, coming together By Edward R. Kantowicz; Page 165; courtesy - books.google.com). Click to go to source.

Is the USA like Britain was a hundred years ago? (Caroon courtesy - mpg50.com.). Click for larger image.

Is Pax Americana like Britain was a hundred years ago? (Cartoon courtesy - mpg50.com.). Click for larger image.

Fat and lazy

Between 1875-1935, Britain was dependent on India for gunpowder, on USA and Iran for  oil, on Malaya and India for rubber. British economy had grown fat and uncompetitive – unlike Italian, German and Japanese economies.

Even though Britain won WWII, their economy was a lost cause. Though Germany, Italy and Japan were losers, with their economy in shambles, they could make a brilliant recovery and vastly out-compete Britain.

The story of Middle East oil is similar for USA and West. The Welfare State, built on a diet of cheap oil, easy dollars,  is now too expensive for the West to sustain. The above book extract gives an excellent snapshot of the oil industry in the 20th century.

And the shadow of oil on the 21st century.

Africa – A Problem of various ‘isms’, ‘archies’ and ‘cracies’

December 9, 2010 1 comment
The world has not been able to shake off the spell of Western 'maya'!

The world has not been able to shake off the spell of Western 'maya'!

EU trade policy has long been hijacked by European business, which wants raw materials at cheap prices. EU priorities are a mirror image of positions adopted by corporate lobby groups. The commission frankly states: “We will rely on EU business to provide much of the information on the barriers which affect their trade or investment with third countries.”

There is a serious risk that Europe’s budget and unemployment crisis will put policymakers even more in hock to the demands of big business.

Opposition from Africa

It is hardly surprising that European policy faces mounting opposition from most African countries, which have long opposed signing investment agreements with the EU. The Raw Materials Initiative should be opposed by Europe’s citizens, too, because it distracts from the need to reduce their own consumption. Europeans already consume four times as much as the average African. (read more via The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : The European Union’s ugly resource grab).

Idea of ‘exploiting’ resources on the cheap

To take away rights from people ‘who do not know the value’ of such resources (Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, Africans) and transfer property rights to the ‘discoverer’ of these resources is an old idea which strangely finds legitimacy, even after 400 years of bad experience. Ranging from Spain to Belgium, with the Dutch and the English, all joined in this ‘resource’ grab. And this saga continues.

The 'resource grab' and the campaign to keep Africa poor continues.

The 'resource grab' and the campaign to keep Africa poor continues.

Bankruptcy of ideology – ism, cracy and archy

In some case, modern nation-States based on various ‘isms’ (Capitalism, Communism, Socialism) combine with various ‘archy’ (monarchy, oligarchy) and ‘cracy’ (democracy, plutocracy, bureaucracy) continue to ensure that power and wealth remains in the hands of very few. The Rest of Us have to be happy with illusion of being equal, of having power over leaders, etc. And no.

This power does NOT flow from the barrel of the gun – but from limiting access to ज़र, zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land). Instead of various ‘isms’, ‘archies’ and ‘cracies’, what the world needs is a system that will guarantee the four essential freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice)

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

‘Honest’ Broker – United States Foreign Policy!

October 2, 2010 2 comments
The Buddhist Jataka that travelled to Victorian England!

The Buddhist Jataka that travelled to Victorian England!

India and Honest Brokers

There is this Buddhist Jataka story which we have all heard.

Two cats go to a monkey for help in dividing some eatable equally. End result – the monkey gets everything. The cats, nothing. ‘Honest’ brokers are the monkey which leaves nothing for the cats.

Hillary Clinton assured a nervous gathering of Foreign Policy analysts that the world is counting on the USA today as it has in the past. When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us. When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us. (via Remarks on United States Foreign Policy).

In real life

What is left of Pakistan after US finished with brokering Pakistan’s future? After the West carved up the Ottoman Empire, and divided the Turkish possessions among their puppets, what is left of the Middle East? With oil, Big Oil, oil politics, oil-dollar, oil prices at stake, can the US be a honest broker.

Tell that to the birds.

With oil at stake, how 'honest' a broker can the US be? (Cartoon by Pat Oliphant). Click for larger image.).

With oil at stake, how 'honest' a broker can the US be? (Cartoon by Pat Oliphant). Click for larger image.

Can there be a ‘honest’ broker?

This idea that there cannot be ‘honest’ brokers, made Buddhism so popular all over the world. Not pretty statues and musical chants. In the last 200 years, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra has gone into regression. But, in this period, the world has also learnt more about the limitations of the Desert Bloc ideology.

People get ready!

Boozed British journalism cant see straight

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment
Why compare Japan with Latam and Zimbabwe? Why not with USA, China and Germany which is more like in Japanese class! (Cartoonist - Clay Bennett,  from Clay Bennett's Editorial Cartoons; courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com.). Click for larger image.

Why compare Japan with Lat-Am and Zimbabwe? Why not with USA, China and Germany which is more like in Japanese class! (Cartoonist - Clay Bennett, from Clay Bennett's Editorial Cartoons; courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com.). Click for larger image.

An Indian problem

Now one of the problems of India, having English as an important language, is the amount of swill, garbage and propaganda that we are subjected to.

In spite of being less than anybody, British media can be pretty biased.

One example was a post by Ian Campbell on Japan’s economic problems. He says,

Japan has … has the worst debt to GDP ratio among major economies … But the interest yield on Japanese government bonds is … not much more than 1 per cent, so the debt is not yet so problematic – and might not seem an obstacle to still more spending. … In just five years, even assuming the economy grows, debt might climb to 230 per cent of GDP …  the hideously large debt would finally drive the fiscal deficit far higher and become intolerable.

Japan’s only route then would be drastic fiscal reform or, more probably, huge resort to the printing press, as Latin America did in the old days and Zimbabwe in more recent times. (via Nokia’s billion-dollar man).

British media needs to talk less about other economies - and look at problems in their own backyard. (Cartoon By Brian Adcock, The Scotland - 1/20/2008 12.00.00 AM Cartoon courtesy - politicalcartoons.com; ©Copyright 2008  Brian Adcock - All Rights Reserved.). Click for larger image

British media needs to talk less about other economies - and look at problems in their own backyard. (Cartoon By Brian Adcock, The Scotland - 1/20/2008 12.00.00 AM Cartoon courtesy - politicalcartoons.com; ©Copyright 2008 Brian Adcock - All Rights Reserved.). Click for larger image

Sad Brits …

Campbell, a British journalist, compares Japan with Latin American and African Governments who have printed a lot of money.

But surely he knows that Western Governments – under the leadership of Ben Bernanke printed much more than Africa and Lat-Am could and did! Why is Campbell not talking of British, European and American printing presses?

Is there a racial smell and smear somewhere? Did I hear him say ‘These irresponsible Blacks, Latinas, Browns, Yellows …’

Japan’s problems

Now Japan’s problems are minor – because they have solid, well run, high tech companies, whose products are in demand all over the world.

Off their peaks, these Japanese firms still have  mean clout in business world. Japanese interest rates being so low will not change Governmental economics by much. So, why compare Japan with Latin America or Zimbabwe?

Of course, you cannot compare Japan to Spain – where prostitution is a national industry.  Or Ireland, or Greece, which have lived on handouts for the last 100 years.

Maybe you should look at British debt my dear sir!

Wishful thinking?

Is it wishful thinking Mr.Campbell? Balanced your judgment is not. Or is it just plain malarkey? Methinks, it is ‘White’ noise!

Ian Campbell, who has “recently returned to the UK, where he is writing a book on rural Mexico.” could utilize his time much better writing about rural Britain, which depends on huge subsidies from a nation groaning under 500% Gross-National-Debt (GND-that is Govt.+Corporate+household).

Now British GND (no hindi puns intended) is a much-more-hideous. Than Japanese at 500%. We both know that British exports  are going nowhere!

Is it not time to focus on Britain itself? Japan will do very well, without your attention. (Cartoonist Jeff Danziger; courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com.).

Cartoon Text - "Austerity? But late squire ... she has been dead these fifty years." 2ndlook says - Is it not time to focus on Britain itself? Japan will do very well, without British attention. (Cartoonist Jeff Danziger; courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com.).

Let us look at British economy

First the biggest sector of British corporate sector is about digging, extracting and selling natural resources.

A historical legacy – with little value-addition. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, North Sea Oil, XStrata, Anglo American, Rio Tinto Group,  BHP Billiton, BG Group, National Grid, Scottish and Southern Energy, Centrica. That is 10 of the top 30 British companies. These companies mostly have their assets abroad – and if push comes to shove, you know these companies will go where their bread is buttered.

The second leg on which British industry stands today is cracked leg of banking and insurance – HSBC, HBOS, RBS, Lloyd’s TSB, Barclays, Standard Chartered, Aviva and Prudential. The British part of the business of these 8 financial firms is in mess. The international business is subsidizing the British business. How long do you think this will last?

The third wobbly leg is pharmaceuticals made up of two companies. Glaxo-Smithkline-and Astra Zeneca. Both are in doldrums due to competition from generic Indian companies – and may look good to beery British journalists boozed in a pub. Now these are the three legs of British economy. We know that three legged stools are always prone to topple over.

That was lesson No.1 for you Campbell.

Is this how British journalism lifts its spirits? (By Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE - 5/19/2010 12.00.00 AM)

Is this how British journalism lifts its spirits? (By Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE - 5/19/2010 12.00.00 AM)

Lallu has a few things to say here

Lesson No.2 is what our colourful former Railway Minister said, “इस हमाम में सब नंगे हैं” (meaning “everyone in this bathhouse is naked”).

No offense to colour black, but then black pots must not call yellow kettles names.

It is plain bad journalism!

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